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Resume or CV: Which One Do You Need?

Photo of Brenna Goyette
Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 4 min read

In the world of job applications and career advancement, two documents stand out as the primary tools for showcasing one's professional background: the resume and the Curriculum Vitae (CV). While they share the common goal of presenting an individual's qualifications, their usage, format, and content can differ significantly. Understanding these differences is crucial for job seekers aiming to present themselves in the best light to potential employers. This essay delves into the nuances of resumes and CVs, offering insights into which document is appropriate under various circumstances.

The Essence of a Resume

A resume is a concise document, typically one to two pages long, designed to provide a quick overview of an individual's skills, experiences, and education relevant to the job they are applying for. The brevity of a resume makes it imperative for the information to be clear, well-organized, and impactful. Resumes often include sections such as objective or summary, work experience, education, skills, and sometimes, additional sections like certifications or publications, depending on the job's requirements and the applicant's background.

The primary purpose of a resume is to capture the attention of hiring managers and persuade them that the candidate possesses the qualifications necessary for the position. Given its succinct nature, a resume is tailored to the specific job, highlighting the most relevant experiences and achievements that align with the job's demands.

The Comprehensive Nature of a CV

Contrary to the resume, a Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a detailed and comprehensive document that provides an in-depth overview of an individual's entire career path, including academic background, professional experience, achievements, publications, awards, and other pertinent details. There is no page limit for a CV, allowing the individual to include as much information as necessary to paint a full picture of their professional life.

CVs are commonly used in academic, scientific, and research positions, where the emphasis is on one's scholarly accomplishments and contributions to the field. In these contexts, the detailed nature of a CV is necessary to assess the candidate's suitability for the role, particularly when it involves research, teaching, or grant applications.

Choosing Between a Resume and a CV

The decision to use a resume or a CV largely depends on the job and the industry. For most non-academic positions in the corporate world, a resume is the preferred document. It allows candidates to tailor their application to the job, showcasing only the most relevant information in a digestible format. This is particularly important in industries where competition is fierce, and hiring managers have limited time to review each application.

On the other hand, a CV is the document of choice for positions in academia, research, and areas where comprehensive professional history is crucial. In these fields, the depth of experience, including publications, presentations, and academic achievements, is often more important than the brevity and focus of a resume.


  • Skill-focused: Tailor your resume to highlight skills pertinent to the job you're eyeing, ensuring relevance and impact.
  • Ideal for industry, non-profit, and public sector roles: A resume is your go-to document for applications outside the academic sphere, where practical experience is key.
  • Conciseness is key: Aim for a maximum of two pages, though you may add an extra page for significant publications or presentations directly related to the job.
  • Prioritize work experience post-industry entry: Once you've accumulated a year of work outside academia, let your professional experience lead. Education details should follow, positioned based on their relevance to your current qualifications.


  • Academic achievements front and center: Your CV should comprehensively list your scholarly pursuits, including research, teaching experience, and academic accolades.
  • Suited for academia, fellowships, and grant applications: When your academic credentials are under scrutiny, a CV provides a detailed account of your scholarly journey.
  • No strict page limit: The length of your CV is dictated by the breadth of your experience, ensuring a full listing of your publications, presentations, and academic endeavors.
  • Education takes precedence: Start with your educational background, including details like your advisor's name and a synopsis of your dissertation if applicable. This format also applies when you're up for tenure review or planning a sabbatical, underscoring the academic focus of your CV.

Editorial staff

Photo of Brenna Goyette, Editor


Brenna Goyette

Expert Verified

Brenna is a certified professional resume writer, career expert, and the content manager of the ResumeCat team. She has a background in corporate recruiting and human resources and has been writing resumes for over 10 years. Brenna has experience in recruiting for tech, finance, and marketing roles and has a passion for helping people find their dream jobs. She creates expert resources to help job seekers write the best resumes and cover letters, land the job, and succeed in the workplace.

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